The data center industry in Europe is grappling with an overwhelming demand for capacity. However, there is a notable shortfall in both power and scale to address this surge. As a result, particularly for hyperscaler companies, lease prices soared with demand outstripping supply in FLAPD (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin) markets last year.

As investments surge to meet industry demands, leaders in the data center sector cannot afford to overlook a fundamental step: hiring the right talent in an environment where such talent is scarce. In this nascent industry, nailing down the right candidate profile is vital, especially considering the fast-evolving concerns about scale and power requirements.

So how can you find the right candidate? Based on our work supporting several senior executive searches in this space, leaders will need to consider the following aspects:

Define a vision

In an industry flooded with new players, attracting relevant talent starts with refining, and effectively communicating the vision of your project. Candidates are not just buying into the current state of the organization; they are investing in the ideal they will contribute to delivering. Similarly, the ability to convey the project’s distinctiveness when compared to the other players in the sector is key in engaging and retaining candidate interest.

Know your target client

Having a clear goal about the target client (e.g., enterprise, hyperscaler, SME) and what makes the project distinctive for that client is crucial for both established incumbents and newcomers in the sector. Having clarity is also key for experienced executives considering a switch. This is particularly true for sales-focused roles, where grasping the value proposition they’ll be pitching is paramount. Clarity about the campus’ client segment focus, connectivity strategy, and targeted workload types is essential. It provides executives with a clear understanding of what they are buying into and helps the company align candidate profiles more effectively.

Differentiate between build, scale, corporate

The executive’s level of involvement varies greatly depending on the type of organization. Incumbent corporate players typically have larger, structured (often matrix) teams, while new entrants operate with lean teams with variable capacity models for cost efficiency and agility—needing to adapt during this phase to then establish formal processes and structures as they scale-up. Executive profiles also vary significantly, depending on whether the goal is to develop a team, requiring hands-on involvement in the initial stages; or to manage and optimize an existing team, where delegation and stakeholder management become higher priorities within larger structures.

Culture is key

Successful executive integration hinges on cultural fit—aligning both with the shareholder type (e.g., corporate vs. infra fund) and their degree of involvement, along with compatibility with the existing team. This alignment is instrumental in sustaining progress toward the desired company culture. Additionally, how the executive works and engages with others, needs to harmonize with the team’s dynamics to develop a high-performing team. This is particularly important if the organization is at the build stage, where agility is paramount.

Hire the right profile for the need

A successful executive in one context may not be the right one in another. This holds true particularly in roles that are highly context-dependent such as Sales. The choice of target sales model will be crucial when selecting the senior sales executive. Depending on whether the goal is to expand existing customer share or acquire new clients, as well as drive direct sales versus through a channel organization, the approach differs substantially. Success in one model does not automatically translate to success in another.

Understand the industry evolution

The Data Center industry has undergone significant transformation over the last few years. It’s no longer solely about physical space. Rather, the name of the game is access to power. Site connectivity becomes another key element, being paramount for targeting specific workloads and client types. Additionally, the sector’s sustainability concerns have driven carbon impact discussions to the C-suite of many players, both as a way to differentiate and often to reduce cost. Industry veterans must recognize this shift and adapt to the changing requirements of the industry. The same goes for the profiles of the executives they bring on board—ensuring they have the expertise required to have the right type of discussion with their clients.

You get what you pay for

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is perhaps true more than ever before. With talent scarcity intensifying, multiple organizations seek executives with the necessary capabilities. Consider the moment your company is going through: What are the main challenges, and what executive roles will be poised to succeed? Invest in those executives and hire the ones with the potential to make the most difference. Ultimately, this is the talent that will drive company growth.

The burgeoning growth in the data center industry presents a golden opportunity for those who are nimble enough to capture the scarce talent in the market. This talent will be instrumental in navigating the industry’s evolving client requirements and ensuring that new campuses speak towards future needs— and look back to past practices. After all, what has driven the industry’s growth thus far may not necessarily sustain it in the future. Hiring the right executive is the key to unlocking this opportunity.